Mia, Dwayne, Kathryn, Carl, and Frankenstein looked from the three-story demon in a tuxedo to their infernal surroundings.
Kathryn shook her head. “Ha! I did not expect this.”
The demon twirled his walking stick and let it rest on his shoulder. “I suppose I ought to get the tour out of the way so we can begin your eternal torment. My name is Skranenflon and I’ll be your attendant while you’re here. Anything you need, just wail and gnash those pearly little whites. You’re all here because you did lots of nasty things up there like breaking out of jail and eating shellfish. Ooooh, He hates that! (It’s a texture thing. They’re so chewy!) Anywho, up there is a limitless void separating us from the mortal plane and everywhere around you is a burning lake of fire. Any questions?”
“So is there like, sex stuff here?” Carl asked. “Lotta pervoids? Where do you keep them?”
“In the boiling lake of fire like everyone else,” Skranenflon said. “We used to specialize the punishments to match the crimes — you know, starving the gluttons while showing them food just out of reach and beating the greedy with bags of gold — but we’ve had such an influx of sinners over the last five thousand years and their sins are so varied and intermingled that we had to simplify everything. I tell you, some days I don’t know why I show up at all. Long story short, if you’re looking for perverts, you’ll have to ask around while the flesh melts off your bones.”
“Hmm. Well, it’s an icebreaker, anyway,” Carl said.
“That’s the spirit. Now, before we get started, there’s a technicality to take care of. We give all newcomers the option of either serving as minions of evil or being tortured for eternity with a chance of parole in a few million years, give or take based on your case. It’s a very difficult decision and–”
“We’ll do it,” Dwayne said.
“Are you sure? Everyone else has chosen the torture and hope for eventual redemption rather than doing evil.”
“Nope. No, thank you. We’ll do it.”
“Does that go for all of you?” The Redressers shrugged and nodded. “Wonderful! I’ll get the paperwork started. Hey, Adolf! We’re going to need a few badges over here!”
Before long, they were outfitted with black leather outfits of varying degrees of coverage and were reading the user manuals about their new satanic powers. Mia was now a cyborg with a robot arm, a laser eye, and a spiky red metal mohawk. She also had the ability to interface with any technology and take it over. Dwayne had grown into a gravelly-voiced muscle man with throbbing veins, a face tattoo, enormous guns, and lots of pouches. An inordinate amount of pouches. Kathryn had the power to transmute materials from one substance to another. Her new uniform showed even more cleavage than her old one, but she didn’t mind anymore since she was working for the devil. Carl had the cosmic power to transport people anywhere and create special “survive in space” bubbles if necessary, Finally, Frankenstein could now shoot beams that could kill and other beams that could bring stuff back to life. It was pretty impressive, honestly.
“What do we do with this incredible power?” asked Kathryn.
“You’ll be working with the terrestrial reclamation team,” Skranenflon said. “The main focus is spreading as much evil over the Earth as possible in order to drive more souls down here. We made some great strides in the 20th Century, but these darn millennials just aren’t taking the bait like their parents did. Do you know how many twenty-somethings killed someone because of their race or religion last year? Two million! When you say it out loud, that sounds like a lot, but it used to be much higher! So you need to stir up the hornets’ nest. Spread fear. Destroy some buildings. Blame it on some kind of group. Have fun with it! And don’t worry about the morality. You’re already in Hell. Okay, Genghis. Let ‘er rip.”
Genghis waved a glowing sword and the Redressers disappeared. “Boy,” Skranenflon said, “I thought they’d never shut up.”
The Redressers appeared in the alley where the Sand Witch had killed them. Their bodies were still there. Frankenstein tried out his new abilities by re-animating the arm of Dwayne’s body and making it wiggle around. “Yoo hoo, Dwa-a-ayne,” he said.
Everyone had a good laugh except Dwayne. He growled, “Cut it out!” and shot Frankenstein’s legs off. Frankenstein made the arm flip Dwayne the bird and then de-re-animated it before making his legs grow back.
“Well,” Mia started, “what do you guys wanna do?”
Carl said, “I guess if we’re supposed to spread fear and violence, I’ve got a pretty good idea.”
He waved his arm and a vertical disc of blue light appeared. “Step in. This’ll be fun.”
Meanwhile, remember the monkey who ran away a few segments ago? She was hanging out on a fire escape, eating a cantaloupe she found in the trash, when a chubby old man approached on the ground below. She shrieked and jumped up.
“Hey, up there. Don’t be startled. I’m a friend.”
The monkey squatted low, then slowly raised her head to look at the potential threat.
“Here, this will help us get to know each other.”
The old man wiggled his fingers in the air and the monkey suddenly felt like her brain was exploding, but without any pain. Just expansion. She gasped and then made a few vocalizations.
“Puh! Puh! Fuh! Muh muh muh. Oh, wow! I can talk!” She clasped her hands over her mouth. “This is amazing! What did you do? Who are you?”
“No biggie. I’m Buddha. Nice to meet you.”
“Wow! Like, THE Buddha? You’re a big deal.”
“Oh, I do okay, I guess. I try not to let it go to my head.”
“Oh, right. That’s kind of your thing, isn’t it? Wait, how do I know that?”
“You’re wise, little monkey. I just made you a little wiser. Speaking of, along with speech, I went ahead and gave you Sun Wukong’s other powers. Crazy strength, somersaulting halfway around the world, changing shape and size, all that. I threw a couple of extra ones in as a surprise. I figured you could use them.”
“Use them? For what?”
“Well, you know those people you used to hang around with, the Redressers?”
“Old Scratch has given them superpowers. He wants to wreak havoc, drown the world in blood, yadda yadda yadda.”
“That’s, uh, not great.”
“Right. And since you know them, it seems like you’d be a good one to stop them.”
“Yikes! That’s pretty heavy stuff, sir.”
“I know, but the finale’s coming up so we have to make sure things are set up for the big battle.”
“Okay, I’ll do my best. But isn’t fighting kind of antithetical to your teachings?”
“You’ll find a way. You’re a pretty clever monkey. By the way, you should think up a name. ‘The monkey’ is pretty impersonal.”
She thought for a minute. “How about Donut?”
“Donut! What an excellent name. Something that brings you immense childlike joy. Very good, Donut.”
“So what do I do now?”
“I’m sure your former colleagues will make themselves known before too long. Then just go to wherever they are and do something about it. You good?”
“I think so. Hey, there aren’t any sexual politics underlying a female monkey getting powers from a semi-divine male, are there?”
“Probably. But I think you saving the world from weaponized masculinity makes up for it.”
“Come back when you’re done. We’ll grab some churros and empathize with whatever’s around.”
“Sounds like fun. Thanks!”
It was about that time that the Redressers blew up the Statue of Liberty. News crews in New York started broadcasting live footage immediately, and Donut saw the the images on a TV in a sports bar she was passing in Big City. She planted her feet for a somersault and took a deep breath.
“Time to fling some righteous poo.”